Columbia Pictures invests in Chinese-language film production
Michelle Clancy | 13-03-2014

In a move to expand its local language production presence in China, Columbia Pictures has secured key partnerships with local high-profile filmmakers and entered in to split-rights agreements with Chinese production companies.

As part of the deal, Columbia Pictures has also announced that principal photography has commenced on the Chinese martial-arts action feature The Monk, directed by Chen Kaige.

The film, which is shooting on location in Xianghe in China's Hebei Province, is a Cao Huayi presentation produced by Chen Hong, who produced Chen Kaige's previous two features. The Monk will be distributed domestically in China by New Classics Media, and throughout the rest of the world, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, by Sony Pictures Releasing International (SPRI). The film is scheduled for a summer 2015 release.

In the film, when a young monk is forced to leave his impoverished monastery, he relies on his extraordinary martial arts skills to survive in the outside world. In search of a mentor, he crosses paths with a Kung Fu master who is in possession of the Book of Secrets, which reveals the lost art of the deadly Ape Strike Kung Fu technique. The rare book is coveted by a sinister father and son who will go to any extremes to obtain it. The monk finds himself immersed in a deadly battle to protect both the book and his master.

Columbia Pictures has also closed a deal for a second collaboration with New Classics Media for a Chinese re-make of Columbia Pictures' romantic comedy My Best Friend's Wedding, which is in development as the studio eyes a December 2014 start date.

The studio is also in negotiations to release the romantic drama Summer Has Tears with Chinese partner Ruyi Media, to be directed by Jin-gyo Cho and starring Han Geng, Wang Luodan and Wu Yifan, scheduled for principal photography in the 2nd half of 2014.

"Columbia Pictures is reemphasising our long established commitment to Chinese local language production," said Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures. "We are delighted to be collaborating with such world class film-makers as Chen Kaige and Jiang Wen, as well as partnering with esteemed Chinese production companies like New Classics Media, as we ramp up our activity in China."